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We reviewed Akasa Nero CPU cooler, which fits sockets 1366, 775, 939, AM2, AM2+ and AM3 processors, have three U-shaped heatpipes and a 120 mm fan. Let’s compare its performance to Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro we recently reviewed.
Nero is a mainstream CPU cooler, with a "new classic" design: three heatpipes that remove heat from the CPU and bring it to a "tower" made of aluminum fins, like a classic radiator. Then there is a 120 mm fan blowing cool air between these fins. This desing helps the PC internal airflow, because it does not blow air "down" to the motherboard, but back to the outside of the case.
Akasa Nero part number is AK-967. The box is simple and robust, showing product photos and features.
In Figure 2 we can see the box contents. A heatsink, a 120 mm black fan, user guide, a small sample of thermal compound and three bags with the hardware used to install it over AMD , Intel socket LGA775 and Intel socket LGA1366 CPUs.
As we said before, the design used by Akasa Nero heatsink is very popular now, with a vertical radiator connected to the base with 8 mm copper heatpipes. This design is amazing because it does not use much space over the motherboard, however it does not fit small cases.
In Figure 4 you can check a detail of the fan holding device. Instead of using screws, the fan if attached using four rubber holders. This system proved to be excellent, being easy to put or remove the fan while acting as a vibration absorber.
[nextpage title=”Introduction (Cont’d)”]
The heatpipes are part of the cooler base, keeping direct contact with the CPU. Although it has no mirror finishing the bottom surface is pretty smooth. Direct contact of the heatpipes with the CPU eliminates one extra thermal layer, helping heat transfer.
As we said before, this cooler uses a 120 mm fan made of black plastic, using a miniature four-pin connector with one wire for speed control (PWM), so the motherboard can directly control its rotating speed. There is no manual speed control. The fan cable is covered by a plastic mesh, showing us that even for a simple product Akasa really cares about finishing.
Putting the fan in place is a very easy operation: you just need to put the four rubber holders in the fan holes and then pull them. It stays firmly in place. If you want to remove it, you just need to pull it. The question that came to our mind was "how long will it last without breaking?" Only time will tell.
In Figure 8 we can see a detail from the gap between the fan and the heatsink (about 1 mm), thanks to the holders. So, any vibration generated by the fan isn’t replicated to the heatsink and this helps reducing noise.
A positive aspect of this product is the fact that it comes with all hardware parts necessary for installing it on any available CPU, including socket LGA1366 models. So, if you decide upgrading to a Core i7 in the future you can keep this cooler. On Figures 9, 10 and 11 you can see the clips and brackets that come with this product.
We installed Nero on our Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 processor in order to test it. Installing the brackets on the cooler was easy, we only had to attach one screw on each one. The holding system is much like the Intel stock cooler system. So, there is no need to remove the motherboard from the case in order to install this cooler.
When we installed the cooler on the motherboard, however, we faced two little problems. The first one was with the fan. If it in place installating the cooler is impossible, since it blocks the access from two of the four pegs from the cooler. So we had to take the fan off, install the cooler, and then and put it back in. The second problem was the amount of strength we needed to put in order to hear the typical click from the pegs; we were afraid of damaging the motherboard. The good side is that the cooler once installed makes a very high pressure on the CPU, which certainly improves cooling performance.
[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
We are adopting the following metodology four our CPU cooler reviews.
First, we chose the CPU with the highest TDP (Thermal Design Power) we had available, a Core 2 Extreme QX6850, which has a 130 W TDP. The choice for a CPU with a high TDP is obvious: as we want to measure how efficient is the tested cooler, we need a processor that gets very hot. This CPU works by default at 3.0 GHz, but we overclocked it to 3.33 GHz, in order to heat it as much as possible.
We took noise and temperature measurements with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to achieve 100% CPU load on the four processing cores we ran at the same time Prime95 in "In-place Large FFTs" option and three instances of StressCPU program.
We compared the reviewed cooler to Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro we tested a few days ago and to Intel stock cooler (with copper base), which comes with the processor we used.
Temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer, with the sensor touching the base of the cooler, and also with the core temperature reading (given by the CPU thermal sensor) from SpeedFan program. For this measurement we used an arithmetic average of the four core temperature readings.
The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed 4" (10 cm) from the fan. We turned off the video board cooler so it wouldn’t interfere with the results, but this measurement is only for comparative purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be done inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, what we do not have.
- Processor: Core 2 Extreme QX6850
- Motherboard: Gigabyte EP45-UD3L
- Memory: 2 GB Corsair XMS2 DHX TWIN2X2048-6400C4DHX G (DDR2-800/PC2-6400 with timings 4-4-4-12), running at 800 MHz
- Hard drive: 500 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST3500320AS, SATA-300, 7200 rpm, 32 MB buffer)
- Video card: PNY Verto Geforce 9600 GT
- Video resolution: 1680×1050
- Video monitor: Samsung Syncmaster 2232BW Plus
- Power supply required: Seventeam ST-550P-AM
- Windows XP Professional installed on FAT32 partition
- Service Pack 3
- Intel Inf driver version: 126.96.36.1999
- NVIDIA video driver version: 182.08
We adopted a 2 °C error margin, i.e., temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.
[nextpage title=”Our Tests”]
On the tables below you can see our results. We ran the same test with Intel stock cooler, BigTyp 14Pro with fan speed set at its minimum, BigTyp 14Pro with fan speed set at its maximum and Akasa Nero. Each test was made with the CPU idle and then with the CPU fully loaded. Keep in mind that with Akasa Nero and Intel stock cooler the motherboard controls the fan speed based on CPU load level and temperature.
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Fan speed||Base Temp.||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock||14 °C||44 dBA||1000 rpm||31 °C||42 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)||17 °C||47 dBA||880 rpm||29 °C||36 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)||17 °C||59 dBA||1500 rpm||26 °C||34 °C|
|Akasa Nero||18 °C||41 dBA||500 rpm||26 °C||35 °C|
CPU Fully Loaded
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Fan speed||Base Temp.||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock||14 °C||48 dBA||1740 rpm||42 °C||100 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)||17 °C||47 dBA||880 rpm||43 °C||77 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)||17 °C||59 dBA||1500 rpm||35 °C||70 °C|
|Akasa Nero||18 °C||48 dBA||1500 rpm||34 °C||68 °C|
On the graph below you can see the temperature difference between the cooler base and the room temperature with the CPU idle and with the CPU fully loaded. Values shown are in Celsius degrees. Keep in mind that the lower th
e numbers the best is the cooling performance.
On the next graph you can have an idea on how many degrees Celsius the CPU core is hotter than the room temperature.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]Akasa Nero main features are:
- Application: Socket LGA1366, 775, AM3, AM2+, AM2 and 939 processors.
- Fins: Aluminum.
- Base: Aluminum, with copper heatpipes in direct contact with the CPU.
- Heat-pipes: Three U-shaped copper heat-pipes.
- Fan: 120 mm.
- Fan speed: from 500 to 1,500 rpm.
- Fan air flow: 50.54 cfm maximum.
- Maximum power: 3.12 W.
- Nominal noise level: from 18,4 to 24,6 dBA.
- Weight: 1.32 lbs (600 g).
- More information: https://www.akasa.com.tw
- Average price in the US: We couldn’t find this product being sold in the US market on the day we published this review. Historical searches on Google shows us that it was sold by USD 40.00 in the past.
Although having a simple design, Akasa Nero showed to be an excellent CPU cooler. Its cooling performance was slightly better that Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro with its fan at full speed, with the big advantage of being quieter and cheaper. Compared to the Intel stock cooler, its performance was highly superior.
Nero has a very conservative looks for current standards with its black fan, no LED’s and a discreet (but big) heatsink.
Noise level is, with no doubt, one of the strong points of this cooler. With the CPU idle it is almost inaudible, thanks to the very low fan rotating speed. With the CPU fully load the speed triples, beind audible but still at a very confortable level.
Its installation is simple, although we had to apply a lot of pressure to attach it to the motherboard. Other good point is the easy fan removal, which helps when you need to make your periodic cleaning.
With all this strong points and costing less than other coolers with similar performance, we are really happy to give Akasa Nero cooler our Golden Award seal.